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News stories tagged with "washington"

Green groups are hoping the new water levels plan improves wetlands along the St. Lawrence River. Photo: Jenni Werndorf
Green groups are hoping the new water levels plan improves wetlands along the St. Lawrence River. Photo: Jenni Werndorf

After decades, major breakthrough on water levels for Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence

Standing between Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River is a dam that a lot of people say operates under outdated rules.

The regulations for the Moses-Saunders Dam between Cornwall and Massena haven't changed since the 1950s. For over a decade, lawmakers and activists have said that the rules on water levels have harmed wetlands, fish and wildlife, and even the tourism economy.

They've tried and failed to find a way of reversing that damage. Last year, officials came up with a new concept, called Plan 2014. Yesterday the International Joint Commission unanimously endorsed it.  Go to full article
Congressman Bill Owens and farmer Richard Eakins talk about corn storage. Owens voted in favor of the Farm Bill. Photo: Sarah Harris.
Congressman Bill Owens and farmer Richard Eakins talk about corn storage. Owens voted in favor of the Farm Bill. Photo: Sarah Harris.

Farm Bill moves on to Senate

The bipartisan compromise version of the Farm Bill sailed through the House of Representatives yesterday, with 60% of lawmakers voting yes. David Sommerstein reports on the 5 year, $500 billion package.  Go to full article
Photo: USDA, Some rights reserved.
Photo: USDA, Some rights reserved.

What's in the Farm Bill for the North Country?

A revamped Farm Bill could reach the House floor for a vote as early as today. The massive legislation which sets agricultural and nutrition policy for the country has already been scuttled two years in a row. But bipartisan negotiators say they have a $500 billion five-year package that will pass.

David Sommerstein joins Martha Foley to talk about what the Farm Bill would mean for the North Country.  Go to full article
Photo: David Sommerstein
Photo: David Sommerstein

2014 could be a good year for dairy farms

2013 was another comeback year for the dairy industry, after near-record low milk prices forced thousands of dairy farmers out of business during the recession. But the high cost of energy and feed still made it hard for farms to make money.

Two of the top industry forecasters say that could change for the better in 2014. David Sommerstein spoke with Mark Stephenson, who directs the Center for Dairy Profitability at the University of Wisconsin, and Andy Novacovic, a professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University, about what the new year might hold for dairy farmers and how the Farm Bill debate in Congress could affect life on the farm.

Stephenson says soaring corn prices are finally coming down, with a record harvest last summer and declining use of corn in producing ethanol. That means dairy farmers will pay less for feed, so they'll end up with better profit margins this year.  Go to full article
Cows grazing at Bob Zufall's farm in Lisbon, NY. Photo: David Pynchon
Cows grazing at Bob Zufall's farm in Lisbon, NY. Photo: David Pynchon

Small dairy farmers seek more from Farm Bill

Today federal lawmakers convene to begin seeking compromise for a new five year Farm Bill. The $500 billion package sets the nation's agricultural policy.

Its biggest ticket item, though, is food stamps, known as SNAP. The House and Senate versions of the bill remain very far apart on how much to fund the food stamp program.

The bill would replace billions of dollars in subsidies to farmers with a crop insurance program, which could also pay out billions.

Dairy farmers would be eligible for that crop insurance. The bill also would create a supply management program to control the number of cows in the country and prevent an oversupply of milk.
But a group of dairy farmers says those provisions do little to keep small farms from going out of business.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/11646053@N04/8439347472/">Sergio Ruiz</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Sergio Ruiz, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

How a St. Lawrence county coop is building local food distribution

A farmer cooperative in St. Lawrence County is getting a federal grant to sell more local produce to schools and hospitals. As David Sommerstein reports, the North Country Grown Cooperative is one group trying to build a distribution system for local food in the North Country.  Go to full article
Students order up pizza at AA Kingston Middle School in Potsdam. Photo: Julie Grant
Students order up pizza at AA Kingston Middle School in Potsdam. Photo: Julie Grant

USDA bets kids will learn to love healthier lunches

This fall marks the beginning of the second year of the ambitious new $11 billion national school lunch program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now requires more fresh fruits and vegetables, lower sodium, more whole grains, and a daily calorie limit at every public school lunch. The program has grown this year to also include breakfast.

Some schools have complained, saying they're losing money because many students are no longer buying lunch at schools. And some parents say their kids are going hungry. A handful of schools have dropped out of the program, foregoing the federal reimbursement for free and reduced-price lunches.  Go to full article
A missile interceptor site in Alaska. Photo: U.S. Army. Some rights reserved.
A missile interceptor site in Alaska. Photo: U.S. Army. Some rights reserved.

Ft. Drum shortlisted for missile site that may never be built

The Department of Defense is including Fort Drum near Watertown as one of five sites to be studied for a new East Coast missile defense program. Local officials hailed the decision. But as David Sommerstein reports, the Pentagon itself says it has no money to build the site.  Go to full article
NY Congressman Bill Owens at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fort Drum's Warrior Transition Battalion Complex in May 2012. Photo: Army Medicine, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
NY Congressman Bill Owens at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fort Drum's Warrior Transition Battalion Complex in May 2012. Photo: Army Medicine, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

What Owens still needs to know before Syria vote

North Country Congressman Bill Owens says he needs more information before deciding whether to vote for or against military action against Syria.

The Democrat says he believes President Obama has demonstrated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria last month.

Owens praises President Obama for seeking Congressional approval before authorizing military action against Syria. "There's been a fair amount of criticism against the executive branch over the last, probably, 30 or 40 years," says Owens, "for usurping Congress' prerogative relative to the declaration of war, so I thought this was a good move."

But how Owens will vote is another matter. He's still undecided. And he says he recognizes that Americans are weary of war.  Go to full article
Photo: David Sommerstein
Photo: David Sommerstein

Farmers ratchet up pressure for immigration reform

Prospects for comprehensive immigration reform are growing slim as Congress is running out of working days in 2013.

That's a huge concern for dairy farmers. Several thousand undocumented Latino immigrants are estimated to work on dairy farms in New York and Vermont. Farmers say they can't find local people to milk the cows reliably.  Go to full article

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